From: lalamaziwa <>
Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2000 06:45:37 -0500
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Forwarded by lalamaziwa <>
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 From: "liz" <>
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 Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2000 22:36:20 +0200


Declaration to UNGASS of the NGO Caucus on Women and Media
New York, June 7 2000

A mind-boggling revolution in communication is taking place across the
world. Much has changed even in the five years since the adoption of the
Beijing Platform for Action.
These changes have huge potential, both negative and positive, for
furthering or impeding a more just and equitable gender order.  Depending on
how they are deployed, they can become a key factor for women's empowerment,
or they could drive an irreconcilable wedge between the digitally powerful
and the digitally deprived multitude of women and other marginal groups.

Communication is fundamental for achieving the objectives in the Platform
for Action.  How can women better the development of their communities or
play an informed role in public life, without access to pluralistic
information, the means of public expression and sharing knowledge?  How can
women work towards a new geo-political order governed by norms of peace and
mutual respect without channels of communication for dialogue and exchange
of information?

Yet the booming communications industry --the fastest growing sector of the
economy-- is becoming increasingly concentrated in national and
transnational monopolies, which are driven overridingly by profit.
Information becomes a commodity and the function of media as a public
service is swept aside.  Under the sway of the mass media, women are
portrayed to the public view in a highly selective and disempowering manner,
and a majority of the world's women are simply invisible.  Their viewpoints
and concerns are grossly underrepresented.

Meanwhile, international communications regulation and policy are
concentrated in bodies such as the World Trade Organization and
International Telecommunications Union, which are dominated by business
interests. Women's access to the means of communication is not represented
in their decisions and is given little weight.

As codified in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all
people have the right to "seek, receive and impart information and ideas
through any media regardless of frontier."  This implies that it is
essential for women and marginalized groups to gain access to all means of
communication and public expression, including the mass media; noncommercial
access to broadcasting spectrum and communications technology; and a say in
the direction of technology development.

To guarantee women the fundamental human right to communicate, civil society
must be empowered to hold national and international media accountable.
Full, gender-balanced participation of civil society in regulatory bodies
must be ensured.  Codes of ethics must be articulated that respect the vital
norms of pluralism, human rights and gender balance. Both gender
mainstreaming and special programs are required to create an enabling
environment that fosters women's equality in the media professions.

Any serious review of Section J  (Women and Media) of the Beijing Platform
for Action has to address the emerging scenario at the global, regional,
national, and local level.  It must recognize the strategic weakness of
Section J, which failed to articulate the structural constraints and
impediments that women and other marginal groups face due to
commercialization and globalization of media and the concomitant decline of
public broadcasting media in societies with democratic and pluralistic

Not only has the Beijing Plus 5 review failed to meet this challenge, but
the Outcomes document scarcely refers to media and communications at all.
We call upon the United Nations to create the conditions for a broad and
inclusive debate on communication issues and their implications for
democracy and social justice.  We also call for a World Conference on
Communication with 50% female participation --  in which women and other
marginalized citizens must have an equal voice with governments and the
private sector, as a fundamental contribution to gender equality,
development and peace.

Send ratifications to Women Action office (Floor 2 of Church Center)

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